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Calendar >  The Top Hoaxes of All Time

The Top Hoaxes of All Time

By   /  September 4, 2020  /  5 Comments


TR Robertson — In today’s world there are reports of “Fake News” almost daily and then there are the infamous hoaxes that have been pulled on society. There have been numerous hoaxes throughout the years pulled on the public and the media for a variety of reason. Most of the reasons simply fall into publicity for the person(s) perpetrating the hoax. Some of the reasons fall into simply seeing if they can get away with fooling the public or a specific part of the public. Some hoaxes are to make some sort of a statement or foster some belief or vendetta.

Then there are hoaxes staged that are exceedingly difficult to understand why they were attempted. One such hoax occurred in 2009 referred to as the story of the Balloon Boy. In this hoax, a family, from Colorado, claimed their 6-year-old son had climbed into a homemade balloon that took off, carrying the young boy high into the sky. Richard and Mayuni Heene said their son had climbed into the homemade balloon when it took off from their house. The story triggered a statewide search for the young boy and the balloon, as well as national interest. The saucer shaped balloon reached a height of 7,000 feet and traveled some 50 miles, with the National Guard and local police pursuing the balloon, following it to a landing spot some 12 miles outside of Denver. When all was said and done, the young boy was found hiding in the family’s attic. In an interview on “Larry King Live”, the young boy stated it was done so they could get on the show. Charges were filed against the father and he was found guilty of trying to influence the public and was given a 90-day jail sentence and fined $36,000, after admitting the son was never in the balloon. This is not the first balloon hoax that has occurred.

If you go to Wikipedia and look up Hoaxes, you will find an alphabetical list of over 122 hoaxes, many dating back hundreds of years. The type of hoaxes ranges from made up animals to aliens to bizarre inventions to unusual humans and on and on. Here are some of the most famous and interesting hoaxes ever staged and a little about each hoax. They are in no particular order.

One of the Raelian symbols

Raelians – this religious sect claimed that their group of scientists had cloned the world’s first human clone, a seven-pound girl named Eve. Their leader, Rael, who claims he has descended from extraterrestrials, said their goal was to achieve immortality. The claim was exposed as a publicity stunt when the group could not produce evidence of the experiments or produce the cloned child.

One of the crop circles designed by unknown sources

Crop Circles – some claim evidence of crop circles goes back centuries, but, photographic evidence only goes back 30-40 years. In 1991, two British men, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, confessed they had been making crop circles for decades to make people think UFO’s made them. They did not make all the crop circles as the making of some became a competition between colleges in England, made in the dark of night. To make matters more interesting, there are some crop circles that have been made which are hard to explain.

The front of the Amityville house.

Amityville Horror – In 1974, six members of an Amityville, New York, family were killed by their youngest son, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the home. They claimed that soon after they were attacked by demonic ghosts or spirits and moved out of the house within the week of moving in. The family collaborated with novelist Jay Anson, who would embellish their tale and the novel was adapted into a screenplay for the film, “The Amityville Horror”.  Investigators were skeptical about their original claims and years later, the DeFeo’s lawyer admitted that he and the Lutz’s made the whole thing up, but they profited immensely. Paranormal investigators, clairvoyants’ psychics and many others have investigated the stories of the haunted house. George Lutze claims most of the events he had told to interviewers were true.

The Piltdown Man – This supposed skull, found by collector Charles Dawson, was reported to be the key to the missing link of the ape-human evolutionary chain. The hoax survived for 40 years until in 1953 it was revealed as a fraud. It turned out the skull was a modern human cranium attached to the jawbone of an orangutan.

The Cardiff Giant on display

The Cardiff Giant – This body of a 10-foot petrified human giant was found by workers who were digging a well in Cardiff, New York, in 1869. Thousands of people paid to see the “Giant” and religious people claimed it was proof giants once walked the Earth. Scientists were skeptical from the beginning and it was later revealed that atheist George Hull had planted the “giant” he had made, after he had an argument with a Methodist preacher. P.T. Barnum made a hoax of the hoax for his sideshow.

The Nacirema – A paper, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” written by Horace Miner, and published in a 1956 edition of the journal “American Anthropologist”, focused on an obscure tribe of North Americans who were obsessed with oral cleanliness. It read like a true anthropological study, but was in fact a satire of anthropological papers. The Nacirema were actually American spelled backwards. Miner was writing about our ritual of teeth brushing. The paper is used today to show how studies can be false and must be studied in detail to prove validity.

The fake Beringers artifacts.

Beringer’s Fossils – In 1726, Johann Beringer was completely fooled by his colleagues at the University of Wurzburg. His colleagues wanted to teach him a lesson about his arrogance. They planted carved limestone so Beringer would find them and think he had discovered a new language. He did find them and even went so far as to publish a book stating the fossils might have been carved by the hand of God to test mankind’s faith. When they revealed the hoax to him, Beringer went into debt attempting to buy up all the books that had been published.

The famous Alien from the Alien Autopsy film.

Alien Autopsy – In the 1990’s a short film appeared that claimed to be the real footage of an alien autopsy performed on an extraterrestrial that crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The film was sold to various networks around the world, as many as 32 countries. Fox television broadcast the film in 1995. In 2006, the film’s producer, Ray Santilli, admitted the film was not authentic, but he stated the film is based on real footage he has seen. For the film, the alien was a casting and sheep brains, raspberry jam and chicken entrails were used for the organs.

The Disappearing Blonde Gene – In 2002, BBC News reported that German scientists had discovered that blonde hair would become extinct within the next 200 years. The New York Times investigated and could not find that any such study was ever done or proven.

Orson Welles (arms raised) taking part in radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds”.

War of the Worlds – not as much a hoax as it was an elaborately designed radio program, this October 30, 1938 radio program, voiced by Orson Welles, scared people to death, in some cases, that the United States was being invaded by Martian invaders. If listeners had not tuned in at the beginning to hear the disclaimer that this was not a true occurrence, it was just an adaptation of H.G. Wells novel, then they might be misled into believing they were under attack.

The fake Archhaeoraptor fossil.

Archaeoraptor – This fossil find from China was so believable it was published in a 1999 National Geographic. The story was of the discovery of a fossilized feathered dinosaur that researchers claimed to be the missing link between birds and theropods. After the article was published it was revealed that the find was a forgery constructed from rearranged pieces of different real fossils. Real discoveries have been made showing the link between birds and dinosaurs.

Some of the supposed Stone Age Tasaday tribe.

The Tasaday Tribe – Manuel Elizalde Jr., in the 1970’s, claimed he had found a tribe living in the Philippines that had been isolated since the Stone Age. National Geographic also covered this and wrote about the Tasaday and their primitive ways. In 1986, an investigation showed that these so-called primitive people wore blue jeans and shirts, smoked cigarettes and traded with local farmers when the cameras were not showing them as a Stone Age people. They had been promised money and goods by Elizalde if they behaved as Stone Age people for the cameras.

The Fiji Mermaid.

The Fiji Mermaid – This famous creature was one of the hits of the early P.T. Barnum show. Advertised as the mummified remains of a mermaid, it fooled people for years until it was revealed that the supposed mermaid was the head and torso of a mummified baby monkey attached to the tail of a fish.

This is but a sample of the hundreds of hoaxes you can find and read about. I supposed the general rule is don’t believe everything you read or see, it could be real and it could also be an elaborate scheme to get you to believe something designed to fool and deceive you. How many of the hoaxes listed have you heard about?


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  • Published: 3 years ago on September 4, 2020
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  • Last Modified: September 4, 2020 @ 1:19 am
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  1. tom payne says:

    One of the first things I thought of was Piltdown man

  2. TR says:

    I almost considered the famous picture of the Loch Ness monster with its shadowy head and neck sticking out of the water that was many many years later shown to be a hoax and was a toy type construction designed by a gentleman from Scotland.

  3. thomas payne says:

    pardon my ignorance……who dat?!

  4. TR says:

    It was a 1934 photo taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson of the blurry neck and head of the supposed Loch Ness monster of Inverness in Loch Ness Scotland. Called the surseon’s photograph it was later said to be toy submarine and the carving of the monster attached to the mini-sub. Since 1994, the photo has been labeled a hoax.

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